I enjoy your articles in the Jewish Press very much. I am very much for trying to prevent problems through education as well. I am a social worker in a frum agency for individuals with developmental disabilities. As tremendous strides have been made over the past decade for this population challenges arise along with the opportunities. For example – some individuals get married and may have an IQ of a 6 or 7 year old child. Considering that most normal individuals need premarital counseling to enhance and maybe even keep a marriage together, how much more so do these individuals need it. I’ve seen two of the women who have gotten divorced and have been extremely depressed. Their coping mechanisms often compared to their mental age level.
The reason I am writing to you is that I would like to know if you could or already do tailor premarital classes to this population. If you do not but might be interested in developing something, perhaps we can work on something together to help them.
Thanks and tizku l’mitzvos.
Let me first congratulate your agency and yourself for taking a proactive approach on marriage. Learning and developing the skills necessary for a great marriage are the first steps in avoiding a lot of pain in the future. What you’re saying makes sense. You can not expect a couple, especially one with developmental disabilities, to get married without some clear structure on communication and listening skills.
It may be in the best interest of your agency to consider acquiring the services of marriage coach. This is someone who stays in contact with the couple in the first year of marriage. They do this on an informal, biweekly or monthly basis. This way the couple would have some one they could talk to and feel compatible with should a problem arise.
The present approach being used is more reactive. That is, the couple signs a pre-nuptial agreement which gives them the right to exit the marriage, should either party want a divorce. Please keep in mind that divorce does not solve the problems of marriage. One may get rid of their partner, but they keep their problems, bringing them into the next relationship.
It is really mind boggling that parents will $20,000 for a wedding that will last only a few hours, and not spend a minimal fee on a few classes that will enhance their children’s marriage for a lifetime.
As a marriage counselor, I provide four different services to couples –
1. Pre-marital Counseling
2. Pre-marital enrichment
3. Marital counseling
4. Re-marital counseling.
To provide these services, I use several approaches. The one approach, which I prefer the most, is the T.E.A.M. approach, Torah Education and Awareness for a better Marriage. I call it ‘Marriage 101’, a pre-marital enrichment course that is customized (and private) for the choson and kallah. In pre-marital enrichment, the couple has no problem, but will gain a richer understanding of each other. This Torah based curriculum is designed to help couples build the best and most fulfilling marriage possible.
Perhaps over the summer I can meet with you and your agency and develop a curriculum that would be most effective to meet your needs.
The Rabbinical Council of Chicago recently contacted me. It seems that they would like to take a proactive approach towards marriage and would like the T.E.A.M. approach to be next on their agenda.
Moishe Herskowitz MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed and highly certified social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is an active member of the New York Counseling Association for marriage and family counseling. Mr. Herskowitz can be reached at 718-435-7388.